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Why the Dell-EMC merger still has a channel to convince

James Henderson | May 3, 2016
It’s becoming the party-line, that Dell and EMC are a perfect fit, a complementary blend in a competitive market.

It’s becoming the party-line, that Dell and EMC are a perfect fit, a complementary blend in a competitive market.

But while CEO Michael Dell believes the technology products all stack up, for channel partners, the reality is somewhat different.

Despite the hoopla of EMC World 2016 in Las Vegas, the combined company is under no illusions of the dark channel past it leaves behind.

“We both began as direct selling companies,” EMC Senior Vice President of Global Channel Sales, Gregg Ambulos, said.

“Do you all remember the Wall Street Journal article? That front page story where they showcased the day in the life of an EMC salesperson.”

Around the same time, Ambulos recalled that EMC founder Richard Egan claimed that a “pitbull would let go before an EMC salesperson”, as both organisations actively excluded partners in favour of direct customer dealings.

“Now that was control,” he joked. “But also, Michael Dell wrote a book on the art of selling direct because, back then, the direct model worked. All of our sales teams where subject matter experts, and were trained from day one to control every aspect of the deal.

“For both companies the money was flowing in, but the mark of true leadership is understanding that success can become your ending if you become complacent.”

Going forward, Ambulos said both companies now realise the importance of the channel market, and the partners operating within it.

“It was tough for EMC to change from a direct to a channel model,” he admitted. “In the early days of EMC, we were voted as the worst partnering organisation in the industry and I remember those days, they were tough and with respect to Dell, there was a lot of scepticism about whether Dell could change also.

“But if there is one thing I can honestly say about EMC and Dell, is that we have listened and we are determined to change.”

Today, Ambulos said the channel forms an “essential and critical” aspect of both businesses, and upon finalising the multi-billion dollar merger, such commitment will deepen.

Currently, 60 percent of EMC’s business goes through the channel, while Dell’s channel revenue has exceeded 40 percent for the first time.

“For those partners who doubted EMC in the past, you’ve watched us go from worst to first,” he added. “We will never reach the point when we have made it because that’s the nature of business.

“But looking at how far we have come and the evidence of our commitment to the channel, I hope you realise it’s game on from our perspective.”

Channel changes

In looking at day one in the life of Dell Technologies, when the ink has dried and the new-look company is ready to go, Ambulos said the organisation will come to the table amidst “minimal changes and disruption”, with an expanded portfolio for partners to sell.


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